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SBTS Prof, Denny Burk Calls on Southern Baptists to Disfellowship Saddleback But Misses the Bigger Issue

by | Oct 28, 2022

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Denny Burk, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called on Southern Baptists to “make a choice” between caving to Saddleback Church’s demands that cooperating churches be allowed to ordain women to the pastorate or to disfellowship from Saddleback.

Last year, Saddleback Church, formerly pastored by Rick Warren, made headlines after Warren ordained three women to the pastorate at his church. Warren justified his actions by pointing to Acts 2:17-18 which has nothing at all to do with the office or the function of a pastor or elder in a local church.

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During the annual meeting in 2022, the Southern Baptist Convention brought a motion to the floor seeking to disfellowship one of the largest congregations in the denomination, Saddleback Church. At the time, Saddleback was pastored by Rick Warren but had been entangled in controversy over its ordination of three women to the pastorate the previous year.

Over a year later, after Warren and Saddleback had gone through the credentials committee’s process, the committee came to no conclusion or recommendation on the proposed disfellowship of Saddleback and, instead, recommended the denomination form another committee to research the definition of “pastor” as it relates to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Since then, Warren retired and has been replaced by Andy Wood, former pastor of Echo Church—another Southern Baptist megachurch of similar mind as Saddleback. Like Saddleback, Echo Church also ordained women to the pastorate and as soon as he took over the pastorate at Saddleback, he named his wife, Stacie, “teaching pastor.”

Thankfully, many have been sounding the alarm against the massive influx of Southern Baptist churches that are ordaining women to the pastorate and many are calling for the disfellowship of these churches. One such person is Denny Burk who tweeted:

And while Burk’s sentiment should be echoed throughout the denomination’s leadership, sadly it isn’t—and Burk seems to be missing the bigger picture. The problem isn’t that Saddleback and other similar churches are ordaining women to the pastorate, the problem is that the Southern Baptist leadership has created an atmosphere that not only promotes this but also leads these churches to believe that they can do so without accountability.

As Texas pastor Tom Buck has repeatedly stated, this issue of women pastors has long been a problem in one of the most highly-funded Southern Baptist entities, the North American Mission Board (NAMB). “Many in the SBC are calling for Saddleback to be disfellowshipped from the SBC for having a woman functioning as a pastor,” Buck said on Twitter. “But please explain the difference between Saddleback and Echo Church – both SBC churches and both had the same female pastor.”

As noted by Buck, NAMB supported Echo Church under Andy Wood’s leadership for years while he had the same woman on staff as a “teaching pastor.”

“How can the SBC disfellowship Saddleback for having Stacie Wood as a Pastor but not Echo Church who had her as a Pastor 2 months ago?” Buck asked. “But how can the SBC disfellowship Echo when it was in [NAMB] church plant residency program as she was a pastor?”

NAMB has historically been notorious for its entanglements with churches that ordain women to the pastorate.

In 2021, NAMB president, Kevin Ezell held a church planting conference with women pastors. Shortly after, The Dissenter reported that the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board (NAMB) put out a statement denouncing women pastors and stated that the organization would no longer support churches with female pastors.

It wasn’t long after that statement had been released that another NAMB leader, Dhati Lewis–who was president of NAMB’s Send Network at the time–joined women pastors at an Evangelism Conference called the Amplify Outreach conference. That conference featured several well-established woke types including Ed Stetzer, lady preacher Ann Voskamp, and Dhati Lewis himself along with female pastor, Reverend Michelle Sanchez.

Last year, NAMB supported a church plant with a woman, Jamie Farver, named as a pastor at 1Name Church.

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